Floodplain Management

Building and Developing in the Special Flood Hazard Area (Flood Zone, Floodplain)

If proposed construction is located within the FIRM, AE Zone, permitting must be in accordance with Chapter 26 Article IV, Floodplain Management 

Special Flood Hazard Area

Before Checking the Map


  1. Enter Address
  2. Allow time for shading to cover map.
  3. If you see blue or yellow shading on the property, click the shaded area on your property, and a box with "Parcels:" will appear.
  4. In that box along the top right corner you will see an arrow. Click the arrow and you will see flood zone information, including Flood Area ID, Flood Zone, and Static BFE. 

Flood Hazard Area

Reading the Map

  • The map does not show shading or color on the parcel: You are not currently located in a Special Flood Hazard Area. This does not mean you will never flood, only that you are not in the area FEMA identified as high flood risk. There are areas within the City that were not studied by FEMA and are subject to flooding.
  • The map shows yellow shading: You are located in a 0.2% area with 0.2% Annual Chance Flood Hazard (500-year storm)
  • The map shows blue shading: You are located in the Special Flood Hazard Area - Zone AE - 1.0% Annual Chance Flood Hazard (100-year storm)

Go to the Map

Flood zone information is available for online viewing through our Chesapeake Flood Map or through the FEMA Map Service Center.

Elevation Certificates

  • Elevation Certificates (EC) are used to rate a home's flood risk by comparing the elevation of the first floor, or lowest horizontal structural member, to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) found on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). Chesapeake requires an elevation certificate (EC) be provided for all new development, additions or substantial improvements to properties in the floodplain. ECs are received at the completion of the project and reviewed for compliance by staff. It should be noted that Chesapeake did not retain ECs as part of the building permit records because the Virginia Records Retention Act required these documents to be destroyed as part of the records disposal procedures. This was brought to FEMA's attention in June 2010.
  • Request Copies - If available in our database, Development and Permits provides copies of elevation certificates upon request, electronically, or printed copies. A request can be emailed to the Department, or by phone at the Customer Call Center at 757-382-CITY, (2489) or the Development and Permits Department at 757-382-6018

Key Terms



Any land area susceptible to being inundated by water from any source.

 Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)

 SFHA – the land in the floodplain subject to a 1% or greater chance of being flooded in any given year as set forth in the FIRM


Flood Insurance Rate Map - The official map of a community on which FEMA has delineated both the special hazard areas and the risk premium zones applicable to the community. 

Finished Floor

The City's ordinance requires a minimum Finished Floor height of 1.5 feet above the Base Flood Elevation. A floor that can be inhabited, not a storage area like a garage. This standard also applies to outdoor equipment, such as HVAC units. This is not necessarily the elevation and/or height/level of the ground. 

Base Flood Elevation

Base flood elevation can be determined by locating the property on the FIRM map and identifying the special AE Elevation

Zone AE and A1-30Areas subject to inundation by the 1-percent-annual change flood event determined by detailed methods. BFE (BFEs) are shown. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements and floodplain management standards apply.

Critical Infrastructure

Building such as government facilities, hazardous materials facilities, hospitals, power plants, transportation facilities (not to include local streets and roads), etc. Read more information

Flood Proofing

Any combination of structural and non-structural additions, changes or adjustments to structures that reduce or eliminate flood damage to real estate or improved real property, water and sanitary facilities, structures and their concerns.


A factor of safety usually expressed in feet above a flood level for purposes of floodplain management. "Freeboard" tends to compensate for the many unknown factors that could contribute to flood heights greater than the height calculated for a selected size flood and floodway conditions, such as wave action, bridge openings, and the hydrological effects of urbanization in the watershed.

Regulatory flood protection elevation

Refers to an elevation one and a half (1.5) feet above the 100-year floodplain base flood elevation.

Applying the Floodplain Ordinance

New construction means structures for which the start of construction commenced on or after August 16, 2013, the date this floodplain ordinance was adopted and includes any subsequent improvements to such structures. Any construction started after February 2, 1977 and before July 16, 2013, is subject to the ordinance in effect at the time the permit was issued, provided the start of construction was within 180 days of permit issuance.

All construction in the special flood hazard areas must meet the requirements of the floodplain management ordinance in addition to the requirement of the Uniform Statewide Building Code. Some of the requirements are outlined in the R-5 Residential Plan Review Information, which can be found on our Forms and Applications page.

For additional information related to construction in a special flood hazard area please call 757-382-6018 to speak with a department representative.

The FEMA Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA), Risk Reduction Division, Building Science Branch has developed a Building Codes Toolkit - a central online page to help with understanding building codes, their value to occupant safety and community resilience, and the available tools and resources for all audiences.

For information about hazard mitigation and how to prepare for disasters, visit the City's Emergency Management page.